Have you ever had an award-winning chef pour you a glass of wine while making a dirty joke with a wink? I have, and for the rest of the year you have the same opportunity at the historic Maison Madeleine, a quaint bed and breakfast located a little more than a stone’s throw away from the water’s edge of scenic Lake Martin.
Madeleine’s Secret Supper Series, an ongoing slate of intimate dinners at the picturesque home, offer the chance to sit and soak in the beauty of Cajun country and the tastes of top Southern culinary talent like New Orleans’ Isaac Toups of Toups Meatery and the King of Seafood himself, Lafayette’s own Ryan Trahan.
Tucked away off a tangle of side roads and surrounded by lush gardens and greenery, Madeleine’s antiques-laden hallways and wide front porches beg for a damsel to wave her beau off to war in a Rococo dress. But owner Madeleine Cenac, who has been painstakingly restoring the 1840s home to its original glory since 2005, describes the location in two words: utterly Cajun.
And while Maison Madeleine alone would be worth making a pilgrimage to Lake Martin (if you needed a reason to visit beyond the area’s amazing birdwatching, scenic views, and kayak/boat-friendly waterfront), these dinners demand the trek with a diverse, ever-changing cast of talented chefs and award-winning musicians through an intimate dinner where friends are fast made and the wine is (almost) freely flowing.
“If you’re a chef in Louisiana, you probably play music. And, if you’re a musician in Louisiana, you probably cook a damned good meal, too,” Walt Adams, the BnB’s co-owner and Cenac’s husband, says of the inspiration for the series, which take place on select Sundays between now and the first weekend of December. A ticket, which will set you back a cool $195, gets you a night of music, passed appetizers, a cocktail while you mingle, and a four-course meal accompanied by glasses of paired vino. A portion of the proceeds also hits your karma jar; for this series Maison Madeleine adopted Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as a beneficiary.
There’s no cloak and dagger, nor bait and/or switch (even though there is a bait shop located about 250 feet from the location) to these secret suppers which, well, makes them a lot less secret than you’d expect. The chefs and the musicians are all laid out fairly clearly on the website when you sign up.
Upcoming dinners feature the likes of “Next Food Network Star” runner up, radio host and food writer Jay Ducote, award-winning chef Bonnie Breaux of Café Sydney Mae, acclaimed musician Ann Savoy, Grammy-award winner Roddie Romero, and a host of other seasoned industry vets and talented crooners.
The only real secrets here are the menus, which are created collaboratively by the chefs for each dinner. In October, chefs from Marjie’s Grill and Coutelier in New Orleans presented a combination of down home Thai barbecue and approachable haute cuisine. Dishes ranged from whole, tiny shrimp encrusted in chili and lime that popped (quite literally) in your mouth to olive oil cake frosted with satsumas and served with a delicate sorbet made from swamp persimmons. Crowd-pleasing glasses of wine, paired with each dish, went down easy with candlelight, a few mosquitos (though our hosts were quick to offer a spritz of deterrent) and the occasional tease of Louisiana’s rare fall breezes.
Paying close to two bills for a fancy night gallivanting in the swamp is hard to justify for some, and that’s not lost on Adams and Cenac. For the next series (expected in the spring), they’re currently working out a more affordable price point without sacrificing the intimacy and the quality of what you get for your ticket. But, for those with the desire to splurge on a unique experience down South with the added benefit of helping a local charity, the Secret Supper Series doesn’t fail to impress. From its ambiance to its menu and incredible staff of chefs, servers and musicians, every detail has been thoughtfully developed into something memorable.